Obsessive-compulsive disorder: symptoms and treatment

The obsessive-compulsive disorder (in other words, obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a mental disorder that is accompanied by persistent obsessive images, fears, memories and doubts, often resulting in meaningless ritual actions. Such a variety of neurosis affects to varying degrees from 1 to 5% of the world’s population regardless of gender.

Description of the disease

«Disease of doubt» — this is how the French psychiatrist of the XIX century Jean-Etienne Dominique Eskirol called this illness. Disturbing thoughts from time to time arise in each of us: speech in front of the public, unplugged iron, a responsible meeting cause again and again to scroll in my head an exciting situation. But if such moments happen every day, and getting rid of obsessive thoughts is more difficult, you can talk about the beginning of a neurosis.

The obsessive-compulsive disorder usually takes one of three types:

  • One continuous attack of mental illness that lasts from two weeks to several years.
  • The classic course of the disease with relapses and periods of complete remission.
  • A permanent neurosis with a periodic increase in symptoms


The neurosis of compulsive states usually develops among intellectuals, thinkers, subtle people who are prone to perceive everything that happens in life close to the heart.

There are two main groups of causes that can provoke a neurosis of compulsive states: biological and psychological.

Scientists are still arguing about the exact biological cause of this ailment. The official point of view is this: the basis of mental deviation is the violation of the exchange of hormones — serotonin, responsible for the level of anxiety in the body, and norepinephrine, which provides an adequate flow of thought processes.

In 50% of cases, the cause of the obsessive neurosis in both children and adults is genetic mutations. The appearance of agonizing anxious thoughts can and various diseases:

  1. craniocerebral trauma
  2. Streptococcal infections
  3. chronic diseases;
  4. Immunological response to a strong pathogen

Psychological reasons — this is more likely an occasion for the development of a neurosis, the prerequisites of which are determined biologically. A peculiar trigger for obsessive-compulsive syndrome and panic thoughts can be severe stress, chronic fatigue, psychological trauma. Children cause neurosis are capable of frequent punishment in childhood, the fear of public speaking in school, the divorce of parents.


Symptoms of the neurosis of compulsive states can be very diverse and range from fuzzy common thoughts to bright and powerful images, doubts and phobias, which the patient himself can no longer cure. Traditionally, there are 4 large groups of symptoms of an obsessive syndrome:

  • obsessions (obsessions, memories, images, doubts, fears)
  • phobias (all kinds of fears)
  • compulsions (meaningless monotonous rituals);
  • comorbidity (additional mental illness).


Obscessions are either vague, or extremely specific. Fuzzy anxious thoughts make a person constantly feel anxious, worried, comes an understanding of some imbalance, because of which life can not be familiar and calm.

Specific obsessions give rise to bouts of anxiety and self-doubt, exhaust the patient and gradually destroy the personality. This is a constant twisting in the memory of events from the past, pathological anxiety for relatives and friends, thoughts of various misfortunes that may occur to the patient or his family, etc. Often there is a sexual obsession: the patient represents sexual contact with friends, colleagues, even animals , Suffers from the realization of own inferiority.


Popular phobias, which are now known even to a person far from psychiatry, are a classic sign of an obsessive neurosis. Most common:

  1. Simple phobias are unmotivated fears of a particular situation or phenomenon. This is hydrophobia — fear of water, arachnophobia — fear of spiders, ohlophobia — a sense of panic before a crowd of people, bacillophobia — fear of microbes and diseases, etc.
  2. Agoraphobia is a fear of open space. One of the most dangerous types of compulsive syndrome, getting rid of this symptom is extremely difficult.
  3. Claustrophobia is the fear of a closed space. Typical manifestations are panic attacks in a closed room, an elevator, a train compartment, an airplane.
  4. Various social phobias — fear of public speaking, inability to work in someone’s presence, etc.


The neurosis of compulsive states can be distinguished from other psychiatric pathologies by a characteristic feature. The patient understands that something abnormal happens to him, he realizes the danger of thoughts and the illogic of his fears, and tries to fight it. To get rid of doubts at first help different actions and rituals, which in time also lose all meaning.

Bright examples of compulsions — washing hands every 5 minutes because of fear of catching the infection, endless check of all the switched off appliances because of fear of a fire, putting things in strict order so as not to be seen as a slob, etc. The patient believes that All these actions will help to prevent a terrible catastrophe or restore a sense of peace and dimensionality, but usually perfectly realizes that it will not be possible to completely get rid of anxious thoughts.


In addition to classic symptoms, obsessive-compulsive disorder can be accompanied by other serious mental disorders:

  • Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa (especially in children and adolescents)
  • Anxiety disorder is social and generalized
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Tourette’s syndrome (teak disorder in children)

In addition, the compulsive syndrome often suffers drug addicts and alcoholics: taking drugs and alcohol can become a compulsion for the neurotic. Neurosis often develops in conjunction with depression and insomnia: anxious thoughts and memories that can not be got rid of, inevitably lead to a depressed state.

Symptoms in children

Obsessive neurosis in children has a reversible character: the child quite adequately perceives reality, and parents often do not notice the symptoms of the disease, taking them for developmental features.

All the main signs of mental pathology can be manifested in children, but most often these are phobias and obsessive movements. At the preschool age and in the lower grades, the neurosis manifests itself most often as follows: the child gnaws at the fingernails, twists the buttons, smacks, snaps fingers, etc. At an older age, children develop phobias: fear of death, public speaking, closed space,


Usually, the diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder is not difficult: obsessions, compulsions or obvious phobias, which the patient can not get rid of without the help of a specialist. However, an experienced psychiatrist necessarily conducts differential diagnosis to distinguish the disease from other disorders with similar symptoms (psychopathy, brain tumor, early stage of schizophrenia) and to select individual complex treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Basic diagnostic methods for such a neurosis:

  1. Collecting an anamnesis (all information about the conditions of life, the first symptoms, the transferred diseases, exacerbations, etc.)
  2. Inspection of the patient (vegetation disorders, finger tremors, etc.) can be declared about the disease.
  3. Talk with the patient’s family and friends.


If the patient is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, treatment must necessarily be complex: medication and psychotherapy.

Therapy is performed in a hospital under the vigilant supervision of a doctor. The most effective drugs with this diagnosis are antidepressants (Sertraline, Fluoxetine, Clomipramine, etc.), tranquilizers (Clonazepam, etc.), with severe chronic forms — atypical psychotropic drugs.

Psychotherapeutic methods are working with a therapist, cognitive behavior therapy, hypnosis, etc. Treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder in young children is effective with the help of fairy-tale therapy, gaming techniques, it is also important to observe the special regime of the day and strengthen the immunity of the child.

Getting rid of obsessive neurosis is completely quite difficult: cases of full recovery are usually found in men younger than 40 years and in women. However, a long-term full-fledged treatment gives an exceptionally favorable prognosis and allows one to reduce the number of relapses and panic attacks with such a neurosis to a minimum.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder — causes, symptoms and treatment